Lawyer and municipal councillor
In the panorama of Matuzian forensic history after the Second World War, Natale De Francisi, a lawyer of great importance in the field of criminal law, a leading figure in many of the main trials that took place in Western Liguria between the 1970s and 1990s, and himself a leading figure in local politics as a town councillor in Sanremo and as a member of the Administrative Commission of the Municipal Casino, occupies a place of absolute importance.
Born in Casale Monferrato, in the province of Alessandria, on 14 May 1941, he moved with his family to the Riviera and, after graduating in Law, he qualified as a lawyer and opened a law firm in Sanremo.
At the same time as his professional activity, he decided to enter politics, running for the Sanremo town council on the lists of the Italian Liberal Party. De Francisi was then elected in the administrative elections of June 1970 and May 1975.
Appointed as a member of the Administrative Commission that managed the Sanremo casino, he resigned from his post on 25 March 1975, with the consequence that all the resolutions passed since his resignation from the Administrative Commission were made known could be challenged by any citizen and declared null and void. The solution to the problem was postponed until after the municipal elections.
On 15 June 1978 De Francisi also resigned as a municipal councillor. He was replaced by Alessandro Remotti, the second of the unelected. When giving the news, the lawyer from Sanremo declared that the resignation was due to work commitments that did not allow him to follow his administrative duties with due attention. For the time being, however, he remained a member of the Administrative Commission of the Municipal Casino.
In March 1984 De Francisi applied to the Court of Sanremo to ask the judges to order the municipality to pay him the 270 million lire fee he was owed for drawing up the specifications for the Casino's tender, together with another lawyer and a local accountant. The fee represented 1.5% of the total value of the contract (18 billion), with interest.
In May 1989 De Francisi was elected for the third time as municipal councillor of Sanremo, again on the lists of the Liberal Party. On 24 June, however, the Court of Cassation ruled that the San Remo lawyer would not be able to serve as a councillor, due to the failure to conclude the legal case against him in connection with the tender for the Matuzian casino.
In June 1992, De Francisi obtained the release of a well-known member of a Camorra clan, whom he defended together with a Neapolitan lawyer. The dangerous Camorra member had been charged in 1991 with having participated in the alleged Camorra takeover of the Menton casino. This charge was later deflated to the extent of the hypothesis of extortion.
In the autumn of 1992, lawyer De Francisi defended a young man who, on 22 March of that year, had killed his mother in their home in Arma di Taggia, possibly with the complicity of his girlfriend. In his defence, the lawyer from Sanremo followed the line of absolute innocence of the girl, who would not have participated in any way in the killing of her mother, while, as far as the alleged murderer was concerned, De Francisi had a psychiatric report prepared, which attested to the semi-mental illness of the young man, also to avert the risk of a possible life sentence.
In October 1992 he defended in the second instance, at the Court of Appeal of Genoa, a marshal of the Guardia di Finanza, accused of drug dealing, revealing official secrets and threats, who, in the first instance, in 1988, had been acquitted by the Court of Imperia.
In January 1995 he took on the defence, together with a colleague from the City of Flowers, of the former commander of the custody officers at Sanremo prison, accused of abuse of office, as he had instructed some officers to carry out a series of jobs in the accommodation of a friend during duty hours.
On 6 February 1995, two young men involved in drug trafficking with the province of Vicenza and defended by the lawyer De Francisi, were sentenced by the Court of Sanremo to two years and eight months and one year and nine months respectively, while the wife of one of the two young men, also defended by De Francisi, was acquitted for not having committed the fact.
In March 1995 he defended the former mayor of Bordighera, who was heard in the Public Prosecutor's Office in Sanremo on 29 March, regarding the Bordigotta municipal council's resolution of 4 April 1991 approving the concession (for a period of 99 years) of the area of the Bordighera roundabout and the project for the construction of a hotel in the City of Palms.
On 30 September 1995, the lawyer De Francisi obtained the full acquittal of a former head of gynaecology at Albenga hospital, accused of charging too high interest rates to his clients through his financial company. The sentence was handed down by the Albenga Magistrate's Court.
In June 1996 he took part in the so-called "chemin" trial for the thefts at the green tables at the gambling house, at the Court of Sanremo. In particular, he maintained the innocence of his client, a croupier accused of embezzlement, stating that there was only one episode against him, without footage, based on an "impression" of a policeman on duty at the casino.
At the beginning of November 1996, he took on the patronage of a young man from Bardineto who, in complicity with a man of the same age, was accused of having bolted to death an elderly woman in a house in Santo Stefano al Mare on 29 October 1996, where he had beaten her to death with the iron tip of a jackhammer with the sole aim of stealing a watch and a gold chain, which he then sold the following morning for three hundred thousand lire.
In March 1997, he sent a letter to the Sanremo Public Prosecutor's Office, the mayor of Ospedaletti and the Sanremo Town Council, in which he claimed that the television aerials set up along the Capo Nero road, which leads from Ospedaletti to Coldirodi, not only emitted harmful radio-magnetic waves in excess of the permitted limit, but were also to be considered real building abuses which could not be condoned. According to the San Remo lawyer, the antennas had been erected without any planning permission in an area that was also subject to landscape and environmental restrictions. De Francisi's initiative followed the Coldirodi district's stance against the antennas.
In the spring of 1998 he took part in the trial, held at the Court of Imperia, to protect the Aurelia bis "victims" who ended up among the graves of the Valle Armea cemetery. Lawyer De Francisi concluded his argument by demanding damages of 50 million each for three of the eight defendants. The compensation was mainly of a moral nature for the owners of the funeral parlours, who had been affected by the affair from an emotional point of view.
On 22 January 1999 De Francisi submitted a brief to the San Remo deputy public prosecutor in defence of the mayor of the town of flowers, who had been served with a notice of indictment for manslaughter and culpable flooding following the flooding in San Remo on 30 September 1998, during which, among other things, an estate agent died as a result of the Rio Rubino flooding. In the document, the Matuzian lawyer outlined the main lines of his defence, while at the same time asking for the criminal proceedings to be dropped. The main points concerned the exceptional nature of the rainfall, the alleged responsibilities of the mayor in the face of a precise delegation of the coordination of Civil Protection and the application of the Bassanini Law, which gave officials a broad mandate in the field of authorisations and building permits, as well as the prevention and repression of unauthorised building.
In the 1990s, the lawyer De Francisi took part in other famous trials, such as the one concerning the scandal at the former Sirt in Bordighera, which involved the mayor of the city of palm trees, and the ones against criminals involved in some Dia investigations.
After fighting for three months against an incurable disease, the lawyer Natale De Francisi died, at the age of 58, on the morning of 16 September 1999, in the civil hospital of Sanremo.
A local newspaper summarised his figure the day after his death in these terms: « Natale De Francisi leaves an enormous void, in affection, professionally, in the strong and intense friendships cultivated in a life lived in the front line. He was an example of fairness with clients, magistrates, the judicial police, and colleagues. An intense smile, his, capable of a thousand words, associated with the acumen of an intelligence that was and remains out of the ordinary ».
Another local newspaper reported the following comment: « A brilliant and communicative personality, with a lively intelligence and a ready wit, Natale De Francisi had acquired a leading role in the legal profession: he represented the ideal and professional bridge between the 'old guard' and the new generation. He has defended countless cases - often successful - in high-profile trials, both in the field of organised crime and public administration: always with a sense of proportion and style, to the benefit of the image of his clients, also in relations with the media. Because of these professional qualities, and because of his sympathy, he was able to establish friendly relations and mutual esteem with magistrates and colleagues ».
De Francisi had been married twice and had a son by his first wife, who followed in his father's footsteps.
He was a benefactor member of the Sanremo Lions Club and had been the venerable master of the Crémieux Lodge, affiliated to the Grand Orient of Italy.
On the morning of September 17, 1999, his funeral was held in the church of the cemetery of Valle Armea, attended by thousands of people, including friends, colleagues, judges, police officers and Freemasons of all lodges, united in grief for the death of one of the greatest protagonists of the Sanremo Forum.
After the religious ceremony, the body of lawyer De Francisi was buried in the family tomb in the Matuzian cemetery.
(source: taken from a text by Andrea Gandolfo)